Raley’s employees picket outside Tracy store for benefits
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Nov 05, 2012 | 7151 views | 31 31 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Union strikes at Raley's
Alexandra Little (left) Tracie Culis and Vanessa Smith walk the picket line in front of the Raley’s supermarket in the Red Maple Village Shopping center on Monday, Nov. 5.  Union members began striking the chain of grocery stores on Sunday.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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For the second-straight day, a small group of Raley’s supermarket employees were picketing outside the Tracy store on Monday, Nov. 5, because they were upset about employee benefit and salary cuts.

“I’m fighting for what’s right — fighting for employees of Raley’s future and my family’s future,” said Tracy store Natural Foods Mgr. Tracie Culis, as she stood on the picket line Monday morning.

According to Raley’s spokesman John Segale, negotiations broke down between Raley’s officials and members of the United Food and Commercial Workers at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4, after approximately 16 months of negotiations.

Segale said the union was upset over a two-year pay freeze, and the elimination of premium pay on Sunday’s and holidays. He said Raley’s never proposed changes to the employee or retirees’ health care benefits.

A union representative outside of Raley’s declined to comment for this story. He referred all questions to

A man who identified himself as John, who was coordinating the strikers outside the Tracy store, refused to be quoted for the story. He referred all questions to the Roseville office of the UFCW Local 5, where officials had not responded to interview requests as of Monday at 4:30 p.m.

Culis, a union member, said cuts to health benefits for retirees and current employees is why she manned the picket line with about 10 other past and present employees who were rotating picketing in front of the store. The union authorized a strike in May but waited until negotiations failed before walking out.

“We’re willing to take the two-year pay freeze, but not the cut of the retirees’ benefits,” she said. “We’re not willing to budge on this one. We don’t want to risk our futures and the retirees’ futures. I love this company, but I have to stand up for what I believe in.”

Segale said that the union has “misinformed” its members about the talks.

“Unfortunately the employees never had the chance to vote on this (contract),” he said. “We believe if they did, they would vote for it. They voted on a strike authorization, never voted on a contract.”

Other picketing employees outside the Tracy store spoke openly on Monday about their concerns.

“I’m out here for the retiree’s medical, they want to take it away,” said deli clerk Brenda Gale. “We want a quick resolution; decide what’s fair and reasonable.”

Wearing her Raley’s uniform shirt on the picket line, Chelsea Oswald, a courtesy clerk, said her father, a member of the Teamsters union, told her to go out and “fight for the union.”

“I’m doing this for everyone who wants to do it, but can’t do it,” she said, noting that some employees want to strike, but they can’t afford to take the time off to man the picket line. “I have nothing to lose, I live with my parents.”

Shirley Mitchum, who came to Raley’s to get a flu shot, said she showed her support for the striking employees by refusing to cross the picket line.

“I’m a loyal shopper for 23 years and I don’t shop any place else,” she said. “I want to support them. I’ve been on strike before and I’m not going to cross it.”

Another customer, Kathleen Russo, said she had no problem shopping at Raley’s as she put her groceries into her pickup truck

”It doesn’t matter to me,” she said. “I think prices are high enough. I understand what they are doing, but all it’s going to do is raise prices and the economy can’t take it.”

With neither side looking to continue negotiations, strikers could not say how long they plan to man the picket line, but they did estimate their strength to grow significantly in the coming days.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

Comments
(31)
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sftransplant
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November 09, 2012
Wow! For those of you who haven't been to the website that "mtrew" below posted ( http://www.1-888-no-union.com/75kclubufcw.html ) it's a must see! The LOWEST paid UFCW Union employee on the list makes $75k as an ADMIN ASSISTANT!

I agree that unions were once important and needed in the US, but now they are indeed a way for the lazy to get paid well for doing little.

I hope Raley's survives this so these people can go back to the jobs they have when 13.4% of San Joaquin residents don't even have a job!

When the economy is weak, it's a STUPID time for a Union to strike! If Raley's fires them all, they can be replaced by the thousands who would love to have their job in this area!

I guess the "Retired Special Assistant" for the UFCW doesn't see it that way. According to the website, he earns over $302,000 while he watches members risk their employment...he sure must be "smarter" than the rest of us! GOOD LUCK RALEY'S! Hope your employees kick out the useless Union they're in and go back to the job they do so well at this store in Tracy!
RedHotChilliPeppers
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November 09, 2012
Salaries over $300k to promote Obama care?

How can a $300,000 union rep collect fees from employees, while essentially being a lobbyist?

While these guys and gals are made to carry a sheet of paper atteched to a wooden pole for hourly wage, minus their percentage of each $300,000 salary they pay into?

Too much to ask the union rep to picket instead?
yesonunions
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November 09, 2012
Maybe you (sftransplant) should go back to San Francisco and enjoy all the nice tall buildings that many union hands help build.

Working in a skilled trade is back breaking work and people should be compensated accordingly.

Your comment "a way for the lazy to get paid well for doing little" is garbage. I assure you the workers in building trade unions are not lazy. As with any company there are those managers/executives that get overpaid but most union workers are not one of these.

I agree that grocery store workers may not be as skilled but they are still on their feet all day, unlike many sit-down jobs.

I do think picketing on the street needs to stop. At the entrance to the store is acceptable.

I for one do not cross picket lines, in support of the workers.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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November 09, 2012
yes,

I'm guessing he was referring to the $300,000 dollar union reps.

I do not think union workers are lazy at Raleys as they are always helpful.

But when I worked for a union I was shown several hiding places where you could take a nap.

Why does a union rep deserve over $300,000 to essentially be a lawyer/lobbyist?

Essentially, doesn't the union rep's lotalties lie in the back pockets of lobbyists?

What exactlythe are they doing for the workers ?

backinblack
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November 08, 2012
Dale, Exactly! People who have never owned a business have no clue what it's like, they may think so but sorry no cigar. You know what I'm about to write is true, a lot of people think, wow, that's great you own your own business. Well to use a saying I've had for a long time, Before opening my own business I drank for the pleasure of it, after opening my own business I drink out of shear necessity. Joking of course but you get the point.

I remember when I opened my first business back when I was in my early 20's. I opened in October and pretty much didn't take a full day off until January, worked Thanksgiving & Christmas. 16 hour or longer days, worrying about checks coming in from my accounts so I could pay bills. Worrying about making every customer the most important, which of course can't be done but as owner you sure as hell have to put out the effort. Finding good employees as the business expands. Deciding how to best budget for advertising & other expenses. Telling friends, sorry can't make it to whatever event or gathering, telling family the same. Having almost zero time to date.

cont....

backinblack
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November 08, 2012
I had one employee who thought he deserved everything I had worked my a** off to obtain. Mind you, he and the others took company vehicles home, my gas. They had medical which I extended to include their kids, and they made top non-union wage for our industry. Somehow to this one employee I was the bad guy. One day I said fine, I'll pull you off hourly wage and pay you on a percentage of my net, however, when I have months where I lose money you share in the loss. Needless to say he didn't like that too well and therein lies the problem.

It's easy for people to harp on business owners and how bad they think they have it as an employee, well step up and take the risk brother. All reward with no risk just doesn't happen in the real world. See how it feels to lose $20k in a month or lose your business and just about everything you own when the economy tanks, consumer demands change, or whatever of the many obstacles pop up that can slow down or flat out kill a business.

If as an employee you feel you don't make enough and don't have the finances or other abilities required to start a business, then learn a new trade or get a better education so you can hopefuly get a better paying job.

Bottom line, there may be some "bad" employers out there but whether big or small they are not the evil people unions and Obama make them out to be. Unfortunately for this country the rolls of the ill-informed and under educated are growing so what I'm saying probably falls on many deaf ears.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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November 08, 2012
debdaves,

Are you saying Raley's manager is making millions? Can you provide the website, like mtrew did?

So we can compare.
debbdaves
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November 08, 2012
The amount of profit big store chains make certainly justifies better monetary and other benefits for the blue collar workers who work there for very little money while the corporate heads pocket millions. There are two Americas in America, the very rich and the rest of us. Time for the very rich not to become richer by exploiting the masses.
dcose
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November 08, 2012
Time for one of the mass to become economically literate.

To avoid being exploited by the "corporate heads"... begin by starting your own business... any size.

Good luck with your new venture.
mtrew
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November 08, 2012
My husband is in a union. We have had to make concessions. In these hard times you have to have a give and take. His retirement age went up. His retire pay went down. We lost our vision care and our health care had drastic changes. We went from paying small co-pays to larger co-pays and 20%. I live right across the street from Raley's and they are out there picketing from about 7:30am to about 9-9:30pm. They are creating a noise issue for us. People drive by and honk all day long. It is about to drive me to go over there and personally tell them to get back in the store and be happy you have a job! We have all had to make some sacrifices! Seriously it is driving me crazy. Figure it out and get back to work!
RedHotChilliPeppers
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November 08, 2012
These sure are tough times and that got me thinking.

Anybody know how much the Union Representative makes per year?
mtrew
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November 08, 2012
RHCP - very good question. Here's what I found - http://www.1-888-no-union.com/75kclubufcw.html.

Also while on strike I believe those workers get strike pay from the union.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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November 08, 2012
Yikes,

I was kinda thinking there would be just one person making that much. My first thought was it looks like the anti Walmart websites, but I used to work for a union and they did not like that I took initiave to learn new things. So I'm shocked... but my experience was an eye opener and honestly I did not want to work for a company (or union) that tells me not to take initiative. I just wanted to get ahead. I understand they were supposed to be looking out for my benefits, but I found better benefits in the non union companies, without my company paying a union rep what I should have got in my benefits package.

Maybe there was a good reason for not wanting people to learn things? Or bad reason.

Are unions still relavent?

This is a big disappintment to me.
ChrisRoberts
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November 06, 2012
That one lady who is from Sacramento that was picketing at Raley's was so pretty.

I hope they work it out. I love Raley's, and it is so nice to actually have a quality grocery store down the block from my house.
dgasper
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November 06, 2012
I once worked at an electronics company building product for the military. The union went on strike for about six weeks. Finally the company caved in to all the demands. The union had won! Then the company announced they were shutting down and moving all the work out of state. Everybody from the plant manager down to the last janitor found themselves out on the street. It affected all workers, union and non-union alike. I sincerely hope this doesn't happen at Raley's.
1219tracy
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November 06, 2012
My daughter and I went to Raley's last night around 9:30 and they were already closed. Two big, bald men approached us in the parking lot when we got out of the car and told us they were already closed because of the strike. So I don't know if they were actually closed or they were driving business away. They were standing in the middle of the lot and telling everyone that pulled up. I agree with comments that Unions are a thing of the past. They may have once been needed, but now they do more harm then good. In this economy, everyone is lucky to have a job that has a job. All companies have had to make changes, like it or not. Until Thursday, Raley's is offering four free items (Eggs, Coke, avocado and chips) when you spend $20. Because of my experience last night, I will be shopping there.
tracyresdnt
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November 06, 2012
I don't usually shop at Raleys, but I suppose I will have to get over there and buy something today to support the store. Unions are such a joke. I just dont understand how union members can justify extorting money out of a company all the way to point that the company goes under. These people can't see 5 feet in front of them.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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November 06, 2012
Wanna comment on th signs that ask people ta respect thair picket line.

It's a valid REQUEST but nothin more. An I do hope th picketers will respect th people who decide, fer reasons of thair own, who decide ta cross those picket lines without tauntin threats an disparagin remarks common out of th mouth's of th picketers. This is not ta say that I have witnessed any inappropriate social behavior on th part of these picketers but rather that I hope none of them resort ta that type of inappropriate behavior.
Tracyparent
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November 06, 2012
Welcome to what so many Americans are already facing. And many have it even worse with no job or benefits because of the economy. Be willing to make some changes. Many would love to have your job. I so agree with so many of these posts that unions are driving us to bankruptcy. They do act like a mafia. In NY, electricians from out of state were turned away when they came to help because the were not union. Many have already taken cuts in pay and benefits in order to save jobs. Find a compromise people. And unions- it is not your way or the highway.
TracyRAP
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November 06, 2012
Sorry, but not exactly skilled labor there. Not sure why Raley's is putting up with this. They could literally replace everyone at the store in a day. In fact, they should. These unions are out of control. They make everything more expensive for consumers than it has to be. There are plenty of qualified workers looking for work.
walkingtall
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November 05, 2012
Well said backinblack. The way I see unions is they are like the mafia. They take your money to protect you from losing your job even if you deserve to be fired. Great for the slackers, but a waste of money for a honest hard working man or women who doesn't need the unions support! I was in a union many years ago and the only thing they did for me was take money from me. By the way, have you ever noticed that during a strike, there are no union reps out there supporting the folks they take money from!
backinblack
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November 05, 2012
I shop at Winco because they are non-union. I also do my best to spend my money at other non-union establishments. Unions served a purpose at one time but they now need to go the way of the dinosaurs.

My opinion of unions which is based on being in one 30 years ago is they stand up for slackers and promote an atmosphere of doing the minimum while expecting the maximum. Equal pay and advancement for all my backside, pay and promotion based on performance is the way it should be.
DogmaticMFer
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November 05, 2012
"they stand up for slackers and promote an atmosphere of doing the minimum while expecting the maximum. Equal pay and advancement for all my backside, pay and promotion based on performance is the way it should be."

backinblack, that is one of the best synopsis to describe our current unions that I've heard. There's no fighting back or arguing your logic (fact).

I applaud you.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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November 06, 2012
BIB

I share many of yer observations, also based on first hand experience about 40 years ago with th Teamsters Local 70. Perhaps th experience was brought a little closer ta home in that th business I worked fer was owned an operated by members of my family, yet because of th work I performed in th company I was required by th union ta be a dues payin member of th union. Because of this situation I was in a perfect position ta view union issues with th corporation an see first hand th response of both towards each other.

On strike, as a union member, I was required ta walk a picket line against th company owned an operated by my family. Attendin th morning rallyin sessions conducted by union managers every mornin before we started walkin th line, I became aware of illegal activities on th part of union members against th business that were not only condoned but promoted by th union representatives.

These activities damaged personal property an threatened violence against th non-union members workin inside th administrative office an at that point I walked an became a scab worker, somethang I ever once regretted.

Th strike continued fer a period of time an eventually we got enough non-union employees hired to vote th union completely out of th picture an it was amazin th improvements that were then made.

Profits fer th corporation went up an as a consequence workers received more pay an benefits fer thair labors.

At one time unions were sort of a necessary evil an actually did a lot of good. However, as in politics, some powers can be used against people fer th wrong reasons an that is a bad thang.

Yes, all of us want better pay an benefits but, as we can see with what happened ta our automobile industry, demandin more pay an benefits doesn't always have th same result an, in th case of th automobile industry, backfired on th union workers many of whom are still walkin th unemployment lines as thair factory has been closed an all th jobs moved off shore ta other less developed nations.

Collective barganin is a good thang but both sides simply must realize that thangs can only go so far before creatin a situation whare everyone looses.

In many aspects Unions, or rather those who unwaveringly support them, have been th cause of just as many problems as th corporations that use ta take unfair advantage of thair employees by forcin em ta work in unsafe conditions without benefits or any real sustainable wage.

Don't really like unions but do understand thair necessity as well. I shall also interject that not all union members are "skilled" workers as honestly, spoken as a former Teamster, it don't take much skill ta herd an 18 wheeler down th road ta make deliveries.
walkingtall
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November 05, 2012
Sad to see this happen. If they didn't charge so much for there groceries, maybe they would have more customers and wouldn't have to try and cut the employees salaries. This behavior typifies Corporate America who go after the working men and women in the trenches, versus going after management that could actually afford to take a cut in pay. I guess I will keep shopping at Winco where groceries are less and never have to worry about crossing a picket line.
ciscokid52
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November 05, 2012
I shop at Raley's all the time. I really like all the employees there and know them. In support of their task at hand, I will shop elsewhere until they get what they want.

I understand that Raley's has had financial problems and potentially headed for the big "B" but you can't cut off people's own retirement which they invest in personally.

Good luck to all for a quick resolution.


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